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Russia probe into Navalny poisoning inadequate -European court

FILE PHOTO: The building of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, September 11, 2019. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on Tuesday that Russian authorities' investigation into the alleged poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny in 2020 was inadequate and ordered Russia to pay Navalny 40,000 euros in damages.

In August 2020, Navalny - Russia's most prominent opposition politician - survived an apparent attempt to poison him during a flight in Siberia, with what Western laboratory tests determined was a nerve agent. He was treated for that poisoning in Germany but voluntarily returned to Russia in 2021, where he was arrested on arrival and jailed.

Navalny has accused the Russian state of trying to kill him, something it denied, and has filed a series of cases against Russian authorities via the ECHR.

FILE PHOTO: Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is seen on a screen via video link from a penal colony during a preliminary hearing at the Moscow City Court in a new criminal case against Navalny on numerous charges, including the creation of an extremist organization, in Moscow, Russia, May 31, 2023. Moscow City Court/Handout via REUTERS

The Strasbourg-based court said in a statement that the inquiry conducted by Russian authorities had not been open to scrutiny and made no allowance for the victim's right to participate in the proceedings.

It said Russia had also failed to explore the allegations of a possible political motive for the attempted murder, as well as possible involvement of state agents, and had not followed up on the reported use of a substance identified as a chemical weapon.

"As such, the inquiry had not been capable of leading to the establishment of the relevant facts and the identification and, if appropriate, punishment of those responsible. It therefore could not be considered adequate," the court said.

In June 2022, Russia's parliament voted to end the ECHR's jurisdiction in the country.

Nearly 30 cases filed by Navalny and his relatives are pending at the ECHR, the spokeswoman said.

An ECHR spokeswoman told Reuters that since Russia was a member of the Court and the Council of Europe at the time of the alleged poisoning, the judgment applies and will be passed to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe for enforcement.

(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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